WARNING: Mild spoilers for A Christmas Cruise and Empire
Tis the season to fall in love with holiday-themed TV movies.
On ION this Saturday, Vivica Fox stars in a fun tale about finding peace, love and happiness â€” personally and professionally â€” while on the high seas. It’s called A Christmas Cruise, a project that reunites her with The Young and the Restless‘ Kristoff St. John.
“Christmas films remind you about that warm, fuzzy time of the year,” says Fox, who’s starred in a number of them over the years. “They just hold special meaning to everyone.”
A Christmas Cruise provides the requisite warm and fuzzy feelings but that’s not the only element that makes it special. “It’s fully integrated, that’s what I love. Your leads are two African-American actors that are reunited, that did Generations, the first fully-integrated soap opera nearly 30 years ago.”
Back in the ’80s Fox appeared on Young and the Restless as Stephanie Simmons. But it was on NBC’s Generations where her character, Maya Reubens, was involved in a love triangle with St. John’s character, Adam Marshall. The groundbreaking yet short-lived daytime drama debuted in 1989 and was cancelled just a couple years later.
“This was a wonderful reunion for us,” Fox raves. “When a director told me that he got Kristoff St. John, I was thrilled. First of all, he’s tall. I can wear heels. Yay!”
And it didn’t hurt that while on Generations, she and St. John shared love scenes.
“I know he’s a good kisser,” she laughs. “And we filmed this in 12 days. You really need actors that can come in and do that work. That’s got the chops. That can bang out a lot of material, make it believable and have chemistry with. So that really made my job a lot easier and I was relieved.”
She also appreciates the mutual respect the two have for each other. “The last scene of the film that we shot, it was like three o’clock in the morning and it was freezing. It made me so grateful to have Kristoff there to do that scene with because I just got real nostalgic. It was strange. I don’t know why, but it got really nostalgic and it was like, ‘Wow, I’m here with you and my life is great and we’re doing this scene together and I don’t want you to leave me.'”
“I think we finished at four and he had an eight o’clock call on Young and the Restless,” Fox continues. “When people have respect for you like that, it just makes you so grateful.”
The rest of the Christmas Cruise cast includes ex-daytime vets like One Life to Live‘s Jessica Morris, Port Charles‘ Rib Hillis and Days of our Lives‘ Jason Cook as well as former Bachelor Nick Viall and Parker Lewis Can’t Lose and Supernatural actor Corin Nemec.
“This is about the fourth or fifth film that Jessica and I have done together. I feel like we’re starting to be like the Adam Sanders family. Adam’s got his crew of people that he calls and they make great, fun movies together and they bang them out. Everyone checks their ego at the door. They all realize that, ‘Hey, we’re on a time crunch,’ and they get the work done.”
The experience was made even richer because they were able to shoot their scenes on an actual ship. “The Queen Mary in Long Beach,” Fox shares. “The other locations were in the [San Fernando] Valley and Los Angeles. That’s also another thing that I love because I live in the valley in California. Going to work would usually be less than 15 minutes. So I was always grateful of that.”
Fox, who’s also one of the Christmas Cruise producers, confesses she’s already watched the movie four times. “Normally I’m critical of my work. I always look for things wrong,” she reveals. “This one I really enjoyed because it takes place on a cruise. So that’s different. They normally are kind of like middle America, guy finds girl, they break up, they have a certain formula.”
What’s refreshing for her is how much she relates to Pam, the woman she portrays. Early on, viewers will find out the writer is a workaholic “who’s so focused on work that she forgets about love,” explains the actress. “Which is very close to me because it’s kind of â€” in a way â€” where I am in life right now. Where I’m just working so much so everyone, when they ask, ‘Well, how’s your love life?’ I say, ‘My career is going great.’ So it was really easy for me to play a workaholic.”
Speaking of her great career, Fox is about to return to FOX’s Empire. “[On] January 2, I’m headed back to Chicago to play Cookie’s older sister, Candace. I’m slated to do some more episodes and I’m so thrilled because that’s like a a wonderful reunion for me to work with that whole cast of actors. We all kind of grew up together.”
“But this is the first time that Taraji [P. Henson a.k.a Cookie Lyon] and I are sharing the screen together,” she adds. “I’m so proud of her, and the show, and they’re doing great. And Phylicia Rashad is on there. Tasha Smith plays our sister. So, it’s just like a real homecoming. We have the best time together.”
In 2018, Fox expands her repertoire when she releases her very first book. “Every Day I’m Hustling is coming out April 3 and it’s basically a motivational memoir. It’s [designed] to be inspiring to everyone entering new chapters in your life, regardless of your nationality or your age. And to just inspire people and let them know that, ‘Hey, I found a way to make it through different chapters and to be a 50-year-old proud African-American woman making it do what it do.”
A Christmas Cruise premieres this Saturday at 9/8c on ION.
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